About a month ago I made the decision to quit sugar for 30 days. I was just so sick of losing control over my sugar cravings. I was working out every day, but still I felt like I wasn’t really feeling any better about myself or improving my health. I was tired of giving in and binging on treats and then finding reasons to justify it. After I would eat a bowl of ice cream and found myself wanting more, I would have this mentality of, “Oh, well, I already screwed up today so I might as well embrace it.” And then I would dish myself up my second (huge) bowl of ice cream.
I was feeling pretty crappy about myself, to be honest. I just felt like I could be doing so much better. And how can I possibly preach about living a healthy lifestyle on my blog and yet let myself fall into this extremely unhealthy cycle? So I made myself a plan. I got a little piece of paper, made a little grid with 30 numbered squares, and put it on my fridge. And each morning, if I was able to go without sweets the day before, I would cross off a box. 30 days later, every box was checked off. And I should probably tell you that I didn’t limit myself completely. I allowed myself two “sweets,” halo-top ice cream and dark chocolate chips. Honestly, I just needed something sweet after dinner.
So, after 30 days without sweets, this is what happened to my body.
I had more energy.
Once I became a mother, energy has become this allusive thing that I can’t seem to grasp. I feel like that totally random kid from the third Harry Potter movie: “It’s like trying to catch smoke. It’s like trying to catch smoke with my bare hands…” Cue the dramatic music and dark clouds. Turns out that it’s almost impossible to have energy when you barely sleep. And I have struggled for the past 7 months with getting enough sleep, so all day I would be dragging my feet. But for the past 30 days, I found myself with so much more energy. I would be able to get up in the morning with Jack and immediately start my day. I found myself wanting to do more every day. I would take my dog on long walks and I was able to get so much more done around the house. I actually found myself wanting to play and entertain my son. Honestly, with so much less sugar in my diet, I felt better than I have in over a year.
My workouts got easier.
Ok, this is a lie. My workouts didn’t get easier. They actually stayed the same. But I got stronger. My workouts just seemed easier. With the increased energy, I was able to really get so much more out of my workouts. I was no longer just trying to get through a workout. I started challenging myself and my strength. Exercise started to be much more effective when I had a better diet.
I felt good about myself.
Whew, this one is hefty. Like most women, I struggle with despicably low self-esteem. And when you add a postpartum body to the equation, and you get 7 months of agonizingly little self-confidence. And though I still had moments of doubt, I finally felt a little bit better about myself. I started to notice positive changes to my body. I started to appreciate not only what I looked like, but what I could do. I finally felt like my goals were possible and that was extremely freeing.
I stopped craving sweets.
I’ve heard that it takes 21 days to kick a bad habit or to create a good one. And I don’t know how true that is, but I can definitely say that after you quit sugar for even a few days, you start to crave it less. I’m not saying that I didn’t ever want sweets. There were moments. Like, when my sweet mother-in-law sent us a Halloween care package with a huge bag of Kit-Kats in it. Oh, I wanted to eat that whole bag. But I found my resolve was stronger than my desire. I let my husband eat them all, promising myself I would get myself some Kit-Kats once the 30 days were up. So, even when I found myself wanting sugar, it was over within moments. Whereas before, when I wanted sugar, I couldn’t stop thinking about it until I satisfied that craving. Cravings can be really powerful so it was nice to learn that I can be even more so.
When I finished the 30 days, I was so proud of myself. So, this last weekend I let myself as many sweets as I wanted… and guess what happened? I was tired, sluggish, and disappointed in myself. So what now? How do I find that middle ground? I don’t believe in completely depriving ourselves of things, because that eventually leads to us binging. But if I don’t restrict myself at all, I can’t seem to control myself. So, while I wish I could say I have a solution to this problem, I don’t. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all just really good at moderation? Though I still haven’t nailed it, these last 30 days has proved pretty game-changing. Now that I’ve experienced the benefits of life without excessive sugar consumption, I’m going to do whatever I can to feel that way all the time without depriving myself completely of what I love.
I hope this inspires you to give this a try. I promise it will benefit you greatly. And if you try it and you find that your quality of life hasn’t improved at all, you can hold me responsible and I’ll make you brownies.